When Wearable Tech Meets GPs

Written by Jennifer Pell

consultation doctor patientOver the last few years wearable health and fitness devices such as the Nike+ FuelBand have become hugely popular – especially since they are now sold at the much more reasonable price of around £75. Although they were a little late in the game Apple seem destined to make wearable tech completely mainstream in the next year with the launch of their new iWatch in 2015. With the potential increase in wearable tech being used by patients, doctors could see a change in consultations and the questions that patients ask.

New wearable smart devices including watches, wristbands, hats, contact lenses, headbands and clothes are being developed, giving patients the opportunity to track and monitor their health easily using their mobiles. The big question is, can the that data these new devices provide be used to give medical professionals a better insight into the health of a patient during a consultation?

During an interview with techcrunch.com Dr Dush Gunasekera, Co-founder & Director at the Healthcare Clinic in London said “In our clinic, we welcome and embrace innovation and online health access. Sometimes a snapshot can be just enough to give us the indications of a problem, or to prevent us missing one. Systems like Apple’s HealthKit might be one of the answers to providing a better patient-doctor partnership.”

The flip side of the argument is that patients could be overloaded with too much health information. There is the potential for the ‘worried well’ to book more and more GP appointments to go over every little blip in their health data.

The Kings Fund believe that for health organisations to benefit from wearable tech a new technical platform needs to be developed to link the patient-generated data directly to their care records. The Marlow Medical Group have already taken their first steps to introduce this new technology by installing new “Surgery Pods” to allow patients to check their blood pressure any time when they come into the surgery and using EMIS the results are electronically uploaded to their medical records automatically – ready for when they next see their GP.

Healthcare professionals could effectively monitor a patient’s health and decrease appointment requests and reduce consultation times by using wearable tech but it falls on the shoulders of both health organisations and patients to work together as a team more so than ever before.